February 16, 2012

10.8: Mountain Due

Just 7 short months since the release OSX 10.7, Apple has announced 10.8, dubbed Mountain Lion.

Unlike the upgrade from Leopard to Snow Leopard – which was mostly a system-wide architecture re-write – Mountain Lion is a huge leap forward, boasting several new features and further emphasizing Apple’s intent on unifying the OSX and iOS products. Most of these features will be familiar with iPhone and iPad users, but with the deep integration of iCloud, this is going to be a must-have upgrade.

Apple’s instant messaging software, iChat, has been rebranded “Messages” and finally supports FaceTime video chat and iMessages out of the box (something, in my opinion, it should have done from day 1). This means you will seamlessly be able to chat with your contacts across Mac, iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch, keeping everything in sync.

Like iOS, a new Notification Center will be integrated in 10.8 – finally replacing those pesky Growl notifications. With either a tap of a button or a new two finger gesture, users will have access to recent iChat messages, calendar notifications and presumably applications developers choose to integrate it with.

Airplay has also been added. So, via an Apple TV you’ll be able to wirelessly mirror your display. I’m already in the process of lobbying to Mike and Andy to invest in a few Apple TV’s and finally rid our office of cables and solving the constant problem of display adaptors going missing.

There’s also a new calendar app, notes and game center integration.

Most significantly, however, is the integration with iCloud. Everything will be in sync across platforms. Today, for example, if you update or add a contact, iCloud automatically sends it to all your iOS devices. With the release of Mountain Lion, it takes that concept up a notch and all your files stored in the Documents folder will also be in sync, in addition to Messages, Reminders, Calendars and Notes. Third party apps will also have access to this API.

This looks like a tremendous upgrade and will help unify the numerous devices we all carry around (Apple-only devices, of course).

The Verge has a video detailing these new features.

Mountain Lion is scheduled to launch this summer and is available to developers today.